Wildlife tourism and the economy connected to it has undergone major change within the last year due to the covid epidemic. Previously the northern Swedish market was dominated by small tourism operators working in niche segments aimed at the top end international market e.g. Ice-hotel and Tree-hotel. With the closure of Sweden’s borders during 2020 including the land border to Finland and Norway regional tourism operators have suffered severely. To compensate for the loss of market share tourism entrepreneurs have had to adapt and change strategy and marketing to the Swedish domestic market. At the same time Swedish citizens have not been able to travel to usual summer destinations outside of the country’s borders and have chosen instead to holiday and partake in recreation on the local and domestic market.
This change in tourism patterns has led to a dramatic increase in daily numbers of guests visiting and partaking in wildlife-based tourism on the most popular trails in the Swedish alpine region during peak summer months. Instead of holidays in the sun Swedish citizens are now hiking and fishing in much greater numbers at home e.g. Fishing license sales by the largest sales point fiskekort.se increased 51% during 2020. This considerable increase in visitors to Sweden’s nature areas including the sensitive alpine region has led to challenges in areas such as, increased need for public transport, parking, rubbish collection and general wear and tear on wilderness trails. These effects will undoubtedly lead to the need for change in policy and investment in areas such as nature tourism infrastructure and also the need to create further opportunities for in outdoor recreation and sustainable wildlife management.
“We believe that the rediscovery of hiking and fishing by Swedish tourists and how our citizens see an increased value in outdoor recreation will be a long-term thing even after the covid epidemic has passed” states regional WLE project leader Glenn Douglas. We see that the covid epidemic will affect how we define future investment in our health, wellbeing, commerce and interregional communication. “We at the County Administration Board believe it is even more important in the time of Covid that we continue our work in informing about the importance of wildlife economy and its benefits to Europe and its citizens” state Glenn Douglas.